all A Life that In Death remains
This concludes my reviews/write-ups of the Morecambe and Vice panels. Thank you to all who have been following these write-ups for this year. Very much appreciated!
Tel: 0300 123 3393Text 86463
This was a panel consisting of Liz Brewster, Barbara Nadel and Dr Chris Merritt.
Liz Brewster wrote a paper on the healing power of books – bibliotherapy. Teaches sociology of medicine.
Liz thinks you’ve got to find out what your resilience is.
Tel: 0300 123 3393Text 86463
Being interviewed were Nicola, Mandy moderator is Graham Smith.
First thing on a Sunday morning (lots of dedication to be at the venue early, but it was all completely worth it and better than the average Sunday).
Festivals of Festivals was a great behind the scenes insight to a certain extent by those who actually put together these festivals. If it weren’t for them, they wouldn’t be happening. This was an amazing panel of people who have dedicated a huge amount of time in creating festivals. Not just any festivals, but those that are now well-known by many.
The festivals being discussed and their organisers:
- Bloody Scotland, Aye Write, Winter Words – Bob McDevitt
- Newcastle Noir and Noir at the Bar – Dr. Jacky Collins
- Northern Short Story Festival – SJ Bradley
- Icelandic Noir – Quentin Bates
Find out below which months each of these are held.
Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates
Bob McDevitt runs 3 literary festivals – he talked about Bloody Scotland and how over 10,000 people attended during a weekend in Stirling. Winter Words in Pitlochery focusses on nature and travel, Aye Write in Glasgow in March – 250 authors attend. Had short films, sometimes and not all are your usual book panels. It spans across 3 weekends.
Aye Write is staged in Glasgow. It interestingly was started by library service. It mostly Scottish and some English authors. For Pitlochery, he spoke about it depending on what publishers can do. He highlighted the Spotlight section like Bloody Scotland and what it means for up and coming authors. He has had event experience of organising from his time working in Waterstones.
He made clear that ALL Scottish festivals pay their authors.
These are some amazingly staggering figures – 350 authors pitched and 80 authors make it. Independent publishers also invited to Bloody Scotland.
SJ Bradley runs the Northern Short Story Festival in June with readings and workshops. They also have Frightfest in the winter.
Leeds Litfest also got a mention and has predominantly northern writers.
SJ Bradley primarily wanted to shine a light on authors. As an author learnt a lot too about publishing world and had some opportunities for networking.
The festival has a focus on celebrating short stories. they also aim to make it: Affordable, Inclusive and Accessible. She talked about where funding came from and about audience sizes in that smaller audiences for short stories. She too pointedly remarked that they also pay their authors.
Quentin Bates is the man behind Iceland Noir and organises it every second year in Reykjavik. It consists of some British and Nordic writers and was decided from the outset that everything would be in English. It was interesting that festival happens in Iceland and yet the locals don’t really do this type of thing. It was thought that it is perhaps to do with Icelandic culture and also the fact they don’t commit to anything.
The festival started in 2013. Why? Well, apparently that’s what happens when 3 folk share a curry and beer, leading to someone mentioning it strange there was no crime festival in Iceland. 4 weeks later they talked more and 6 months later and it began. The next one is in 2020.
Jacky organises Newcastle Noir. She has a great anecdote about her boss telling her to change her research and how she ended up with Newcastle Noir. It is on the premise of ticket price is always accessible. Never become a big festival. No point in replicating others. National and International authors. 2014 started.
Jackie also gets involved with Noir at the Bar in Edinburgh. Authors established and new go to this. It is there to create a community for writers and have a social occasion.
The conversation changed to community spirit and how festivals create a sense of community at festivals for authors and returning audiences as well as for the organisers.
She talked about how some festivals sadly not paying their authors. She went on to mention that some authors do charitable and library events for free to support.
Jacky talked about how to invite authors, some say just ask and others like to go through their publisher/publicist.
There was an interesting question – Should authors go to festivals? Consensus was yes. There was talk of how authors can practice at the likes of Noir at the Bar and try to get onto festivals. It was considered important to get out there and if you’re good at talking to an audience, people want to buy your books. This is true I have to say. I’ve attended festivals and bought books sometimes just from hearing the person talk and the same with some library events, I’ve bought books I may not have otherwise.
There was talk of doing your own promotion as publishers won’t always do this for you.
There was some great advice for authors. People can’t abide rudeness, even if you’re a good author and written a lot. Don’t take stuff out on volunteers, even if you’re annoyed at something. They’re doing their best.
Be polite in your engagement in the festival. Don’t send snarky emails or slag off other festivals.
Be prepared for your talk. Be punctual. If you’re late because of trains being delayed, then that’s seen as being acceptable as it is out of your control.
Remember sometimes speakers/authors can’t turn up at times. Always be gracious as stuff happens and there is normally a good reason behind the appearance being changed or cancelled.
If you ever see them talk about their festivals, then do go. It’s a very insightful talk, which was done very well. It was so enlightening.
With thanks to Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates for permission to take their photo. Thanks to Bob McDevitt for the nice chat about Bloody Scotland, of which I attended this year and hope to in 2020 too.
Lin Anderson closed the first day of the festival in style with her latest book – Time for the Dead as well as entertaining and interesting anecdotes and talk of festivals.
Noelle Holten and Lin Anderson
What a life Lin Anderson has had so far. She taught Maths and Computing before giving it up to write for a living with her first story to tell – River Child. She has a book optioned for tv and is the co-founder of crime book festival Bloody Scotland.
Noelle Holten has her debut novel published and was featured on the Spotlight part of Bloody Scotland before Ian Rankin talked about his latest book The House of Lies. Noelle’s book is called Dead Inside. She also reckons crime books have the most diverse collection of stories told within them.
Noelle was great at asking the questions to Lin about her latest book and a dog called Blaze – a border collie up in Skye, which she describes as being majestic as well as Bloody Scotland.
Lin Anderson has not just the talent for writing books, but also of telling amusing anecdotes to her audience, such as about Blaze taking her for a walk in a place which inspired the opening of her novel.
She also talked about how axe throwing is empowering. I’ll take her word for it, never having tried that myself. Turns out she sounds like she’s pretty good at it.
Rhona McLeod books, are inspired by a place or a meeting and can be read as stand-alone.
Time for the Dead is Lin Anderson’s 14th novel.
She read an extract from her book and I must say it seemed atmospheric with the sounds and environment that is described, which would draw readers into the immediate surroundings. Very quickly there is intrigue that makes you want to hear more.
It was so interesting to hear about how Lin started to write with short stories and the courses and writing retreats she went to, one in-particular being situated in Inverness.
Noelle posed an interesting question asking how important are crime festivals and in inspiring and to aspiring new authors?
It turns out very important as crime books tell the world of today and cross all sections of society as police can get into it all.
Lin recalled Ian Rankin saying “if you’re going to go to a country you’ve never been to before, buy a popular crime book and you’ll learn more about the country than a travel guide”. It certainly was thought provoking. Crime writers certainly seem to, in my experience of reading their books, give great descriptions about many places and areas that aren’t necessarily touristy too, for example, I’ve never been to Gibraltar, but I feel I could confidently go if I were to have the time because of the way Robert Daws describes it in his books. Ian Rankin, Lin Anderson, Alex Gray and many other crime writers also allow readers to really gain good knowledge of a place through their skilful writing.
She then went onto talk about Driftneck and also how real life encounters can play into fiction. She has an amazing tale to tell about how she decided, her protagonist, Rhona McLeod, was going to be a forensic scientist. Some other situations were a bit more harrowing, but none-the-less important she brought them up and were worth mulling over and hearing things from a different perspective. Lin Anderson certainly seemed to ahead of time as she recalled it was at a time there weren’t many about in the fictional crime world. She talked more about forensics and the pace it changes and in relation to her writing. Talks like these are always interesting as they often throw something out there that a reader may not particularly always have thought about.
The talk about Bloody Scotland was so informative. This is another festival I also love and is amazingly so close to where I come from.
Everyone could tell how much work is put into putting on a festival. It was 3 1/2 year in the planning, although they got their headliners quickly for the first one. Credit to Alex Gray who suggested it should be in Stirling. Stirling has so many great venues to offer and so much to offer visitors, such as restaurants, the shops, the castle and the Wallace Monument, the scenery and the architecture.
The founders launched Bloody Scotland in both Stirling and London and certainly had a plan for a direction to go in and what they wanted to achieve. They had 3 aims:
1 – Find brand new writers – it became Pitch Perfect – it’s a 100 word pitch of your work. They’ve seen writers being published from this.
2 – Give a platform for new writers – this became Spotlight where writers can read an extract from their books.
3 – Have authors at different stages in their career.
These all run simultaneously and I must say that they are more than acheiving this and are doing it incredibly well. Many things from crime writers quizzing, playing football, singing, giving talks and signings can all be seen during the weekend of Bloody Scotland.
Lin also gave a mention to Capital Crime Festival in London, which was on the same weekend as Morecambe and Vice Festival.
Lin went onto concluding talking more about festivals and also about how authors are approachable at them. I have to say they certainly are and it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’ve seen an author more than once or meeting them for first time, or whether they are a best-selling or award-winning author or not, in my experience anyway, they’ve always been warm and most approachable.
The Bloody Scotland segment of her talk certainly sparked interest (as did her books), but people were certainly asking others about the festival, trying to get more information and there seemed to be quite a buzz about it.
If anyone ever gets the chance to see Lin Anderson talk about any of her books, I highly recommend you do because you’re in for a fabulous time!
I also highly recommend attending Bloody Scotland in September in Stirling.